Friday, January 27, 2012


It wasn't easy, but it was...

This weekend I will be handing over my first 3.5 inch magnum shotgun to a new owner.  Part of me hates getting rid of firearms, but the other part of me knew it was time.

I bought the Benelli Nova many moons ago when I was just a bright-eyed promising student of the University of Maine.  After winning a Mossberg 500 Ducks Unlimited 12 gauge shotgun the year before, I decided it was time to trade in a gun I never intended to shoot for one that could help me bring down the almighty common eider.  So my father and I went to the local gun shop, presented the Mossberg as a trade, and brought home a black synthetic Nova.

It was at the time an exciting shotgun to purchase.  Crafted with polymers and space-aged ergonomic lines, the Nova certainly became popular and resented by the waterfowling community for reasons that existed purely of personal preference.  I just liked the fact that I had a new pump action with recoil reduction technology which distributed energy through a mercury filled cylinder.  But the gun still kicked like a mule, reacting to the force that every 3.5 inch magnum shell unloaded.  Being young, tough, and somewhat invincible, recoil was like drinking a lot of beer.  The more you pounded, the more man you became or at least that's what I thought.

I found that college and my early teaching career put a damper on sea duck hunting, as I discovered partridge and continued to pursue deer like there was no tomorrow.  Finally, when I returned home to the coast and with a few more years & dollars to my life, I opted to go autoloader.  First came the Mossberg 935 and then my current steel slinger, the Beretta Xtrema2.  Officially, the Nova no longer had a chance even as a potential back up.   So the black blaster was oiled heavily and mothballed, until this week.

How the Big Bear currently looks...
For those who read this blog know that 1) I'm finishing a house and 2) did a plastic restoration project on my 2003 Yamaha Big Bear.  Well, the house is almost there and my plastic project worked but the red seems to fade a tad more readily only to suggest that my fix was not long term.  Okay, let us get back to why I'm completely on a tangent.
How it will look soon...

I found new plastic fenders locally for the Big Bear, but really don't want to take any more allocated money towards the house and put it towards the wheeler.  So I decided, what was the fastest way to grab some quick cash without losing something of extreme importance?  Answer was the Benelli Nova.

Winner of the Nova auction...
I texted my best man who I thought wouldn't mind first refusal, then asked a few of my students who may convince their parents to buy the good deal for them.  Turns out, everybody seemed to want in on the deal.  The winner.... my best man Mahoney.  He already owns a camouflage version of the Nova,  and wants it for his son for his 10th birthday.  So now, Uncle T's little man will have a piece of my history to go along with the little .22 single shot I bought for him on the day of his birth. 

As I exchange the shotgun for cash to put towards my new plastics, I am pleased that the gun has a special owner who will know who had it before he did.  My guess is that when he comes down for our future sea duck ventures he'll use my autoloader, while I get stuck with the black bruiser .

Sometimes, goodbye isn't really all that bad... especially when the Big Bear gets a face lift...

Have a great day.

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Monday, January 23, 2012

Number 150... actually 275...

Good friends are hard to come by...
I like these trivial milestones simply because it demonstrates the commitment to family, friends, and the outdoors.  My aspirations and achievements have changed over time bouncing from a potential contributor to a publication, to becoming a Maine Guide, to now simply writing for those who have enough interest in my literary prose.  Most importantly, I write here to network with others who share many of my passions and for my family to enjoy now and down the road.  I will say that number 200 will be dedicated to my youngest, but today I'd like to dedicate this post to several friends whom I collaborate in the blogging universe with a more detailed network of communication.  Without any pressure for establishing a particular order, here goes...

Kevin over at Ducks, Dogs, and Downriggers...
We've exchanged quite a few emails over the past few months conversing on topics such as sports, fishing, and obviously duck hunting.  He's a sharp duck hunting mind that I certainly can relate to, whether it's preparation, planning, or precision & performance within the realm of the wildfowler.  There will be a duck swap, a bucket list cross off in the works.

Terry over at Women's Hunting Journal...
When it all began, Terry was one of the first who took the time to genuinely get to know me.  She was flat out curious about sea ducking, so after some blogging interviews and countless emails we've attempted a sea duck hunt in Maine this past Thanksgiving.  The stars didn't align, however the open invite always stands.

Trey over at Brave Eagles Hunt with Antique Brownings...
My wife says he's my internet boyfriend, I say he's just an awesome pal.  I knew trouble was brewing when he gave me his cell phone number, but we've created one fine friendship over the past year and a half.  We do take the time to ship cool local items several thousand miles whether it's fine Georgian peanuts or a Maine Christmas wreath.  I look forward to hanging out in real life, there is no question that our friendship is of outdoors brethren and fraternity trouble.  The southern sniper and I are in the works for guided adventure in Maine this October.

Steve over at the Maine Outdoorsman...
My pal and continual harasser within the ranks of blogging, I'm pretty fortunate he got me into writing even though his site and material are certainly at the next level above my journal.  There's a lot we've done and a lot we are going to do.  Our story is quite impressive, sometimes God has good plans for good people.  I owe much of my Maine Guide's license and other successes to Steve; he's been a great mentor, cohort, and buddy throughout our 14 years of friendship.

I do not intend to slight any other outdoor blogger or writer in this post, I simply based my dedication on the basis of a better daily communication other than the occasional post in the comments section.  So at this point, I thank the above four friends that I appreciate dearly.  I look forward to putting you all on that monster drake eider. 

Have a great day,

The Downeast Duck Hunter

note:  The Downeast Duck Hunter here today replaced the former DEDH site two years ago, thus establishing a total of 275 posts whereas the current blog stands at 150...  to check out the old blog, click HERE.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Winchester Model 1890 Sliding Action Repeater

Winchester Model 1890 Slide-Action Rifle

I've enjoyed taking the time to dig into the history behind this rifle and look forward to doing the same with other older models that I've encountered over time.  In the works as of this post is my 1932 Remington Model 11 Sportsman in 16 gauge, I've got plenty of information already on it but I just need to find it and put it all together.  There are many sites that were useful in my research, and I've listed one of my favorites below.  Without further ado, let's roll...

Visible hammer
Calibers:  22 short, long, 22 Winchester Rimfire (WRF)  
Tubular magazine hold 15 short, 12 long, 11 LR; 12 WRF
24 inch octagon bbl. 
Weight: 5.75 lbs. 
Sights:  open rear; bead front. 
Plain straight-grip stock, grooved slide handle 
Originally solid frame; after No. 15,499, all rifles of this model were takedown-type.  Fancy checkered pistol-grip stock
Nickel-steel bbl.  supplied at extra cost, which can also increase the value by 100% or more. 
750,000 produced from 1890-1932.

Source:  25th edition Gun Trader’s Guide, Stoeger Publishing Company.  Accokek, Maryland (2003)

The 1890 model has the honor of being the first slide action rifle produced by Winchester and was designed as the Winchester 1890 pump action rife by John Moses and Matthew Browning (US. Patent 385,238). 

The 1890 was chambered for .22 short, long, and rimfire (WRF), but these rounds are not interchangeable thus limiting the ability to mix ammunition.   Translation, you shoot what the rifle says it can, no exceptions.

The .22 Winchester Rimfire cartridge (WRF) was introduced in 1890 loaded with a 45 grain bullet with a full diameter heel, rather than the tapered heel bullet of the .22 Long Rifle.  Just like our modern centerfire and magnum rounds, the .22 WRF fires a .224" diameter bullet.

The Model 1890 was produced from 1890 to 1932 and sold as a fine, affordable firearm that provided hours of enjoyment in the field or at many shooting galleries.  After checking the serial number on our 1890, I found the number above 830,000.  This then then to further investigation and apparently serial numbers were picked inconsistently with entire groups skipped.  The total production of the 1890 from 1890 to 1941 is 764,215 but the highest serial number to date is 849,110.  With some further digging, I found that the 1890 was sold as inventory clean up from 1932 to 1941.  Therefore, it would be fair to suggest that there is some discrepancy about the actual number of 1890 rifles produced. 

The 1890 was offered in several models as time progressed.  The very first models (1890-1893) were produced in a solid frame until number 15,500 brought about a take down version as the second model.  The receivers of these two models were case hardened until 1901 when with the third model, all receivers after were blued.

To access an excellent site with the ins and outs of the Winchester Model 1890 I'd certainly recommend:  Two Ponies

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Model 1890


Ask my dad exactly how many firearms he owns and he'll tell you that he doesn't know...

You see my dad grew up in poverty, not the poverty today with all the fixings but the kind that was tough.  He lost his dad at age 13 and my grandmother was not around, which left his upbringing to his grandparents and himself.

As a child I always remember him saying- when I was a boy I didn't have much and always said when I get to be big, I'm going to have what I want.

A truly self-made man, my Dad and Mom built a great life together making things great for my sister and me.  Not to say that the nose to the grindstone work ethic didn't get transferred, but it would be fair to suggest that we've worked hard utilizing our education while Dad did it with his body.  Through millions of sandworms, hundreds of thousands of clams, and thousands of lobsters, we lived a working middle class upbringing.

But one thing always stood out, all kinds of BB guns, shotguns, rifles, and ammunition were stockpiled.  The hunting memorabilia from his childhood were continually garnered which leads me to today's post about one I shot two weeks ago- the Winchester Model 90 .22 Caliber Repeater.

This sharp shooting little gem was picked up several years ago from one of Dad's friends who owns a gun shop.  The octagon barrel and flawless pump action with incredible balance made this model very popular with not quite a million made.  On any account, I'm in the process of gathering more information but thought I'd share a photo of the rifle and the group it provided at 25 yards.  Have a great day.

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Daddy's Ice Fishing Buddy

I'm a fortunate guy that I've got two beauties that enjoy outdoor time with their proud dad.  Whether it's shooting the Red Ryder or Ruger 10/22, hiking in the forest, or trying to catch a fish, they always seem to be excited about the opportunities.  But then again, they've been exposed, taught, and accommodated well to the aspects of my world.  There has been times when the trip was cut shorter than expected or an alternative plan quickly landed on the table.  On any account, this quick post is about my oldest who is a seasoned angler at seven years of age and has been chasing trout with me for over four years now. 

After several hours of failure broken up with quite a few tows in the sled, a few rounds of Mario Kart on the DSi, and the occasional trip around the tip ups, we were in dire straits with the fishing.

I will close with this...

My daughter told me she felt bad that we hadn't caught any fish. I told her that I'd rather catch zero fish with her than one hundred by myself and we must be optimistic and patient. That's what makes a good fisherman.

Shortly thereafter, we got our chance.  You'll see below and have a great day.


Monday, January 9, 2012

FOXPRO Firestorm Update...

Update:  January 9, 2012

Today, I went out for a quick set at my tree stand and pulled in another red fox.  It would be fair to say that the call is very effective as today's failure was on my dependency on electronic devices.   I had my cell phone on vibrate in case I got a work related call.  True enough, checking my phone took my eye  away from hunting only to watch the fox come and go.  Readiness had gone out the door as I could not pull fast enough on the fox, but at least I've got the complete footage for analysis. 

Here's the video of the FOXPRO in action with my video camera left at ground level.  I may not put a raccoon tail so high next time as this may have alerted the fox.  To the left was a toy mouse and the logic was to have a predator already dispatching the mouse, little did I know that the tail stuck straight up off the antenna would seem a bit "massive".   There exists no question that I'm improving rapidly and can't wait for the next opportunity.

Enjoy the video.  There is a fox that has used up 2 lives already, I'm pretty sure this is the same one I fired at over X-mas vacation.
For my gear review of the FOXPRO Firestorm click HERE.

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Friday, January 6, 2012

Christmas vacation with the Firestorm by FOXPRO

A 15.5 pound male red fox taken Friday, December 30, 2011 with the Firestorm by FOXPRO

In celebration of the one year anniversary of the Outdoor Blogger Network, there were a variety of field test giveaways sponsored by many well known companies.  I consider myself to be fortunate to have won what I consider the grand prize as the Firestorm by FOXPRO found my number in the drawing.

My experience with predator hunting had been pretty much nil with this score, however I had been privy to several meaningful hunts and was very curious about purchasing an electronic game call for turkey, predator, and moose hunting.  Little did I know that I would be receiving one of the higher end electronic calls on the market.  Needless to say I was pumped and wanted to show my excitement in the field.  So I began with calling a few crows and publishing this promotional video.  Even with the comical nature of my efforts, it became apparent that this game call was a force to be reckoned with.


After a prompt arrival, I again was floored when the box not only had the call but a camouflage carry case, rechargeable batteries, and charger.  The only glitch in my happiness was that open season on most local predators had not opened.   I messed around with the call, did my research, and readied myself for fox hunting.  It took me three calling sets to call in my first fox and sixth to score my first trophy male.  Here are the journal entries for both of the fox hunts.

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Overcast, WNW wind, temperatures in the 20's coming off several days in the low teens.

Equipment- Shotgun, 3.5 inch Federal Turkey Shot #4, Foxpro Firestorm

I left the house around 1 p.m. for a few sets after doing some scouting.  We have had little snow this year, but Christmas Eve and Santa brought just enough snow to show signs of life to the west of the cedar swamp.  My set up position was south with the intention of hunting a NW crosswind.  Positioned the call and raccoon tail cat toy to the north.

The set started with Field Mouse in Distress call at level 6, the wind was not excessively breezy but certainly a touch more than I would have liked.  I opted to play the call for three minutes to begin with and then wait for several minutes, however within 2 minutes or so a big red fox surprised me.

Wearing glasses today seriously limited my peripheral field of view and my gun was positioned at 11 o'clock if the call were positioned high noon.  The fox was no more than 15 feet to the east of the call (about two o'clock relative to my position).  I tried to take a fast shot, but am not certain that I made that shot good enough.  The fox had already picked me up and was turning upon my action. 

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Overcast, approaching storm front due in several hours, mid 30's and light wind.

Equipment- Shotgun, 3.5 inch Federal Turkey Shot #4, Foxpro Firestorm

My father and I took our first set early at 1:30, set up on a point overlooking a sandy beach with grassy edge.  Again, I started with the Field Mouse in Distress at level 5, called for one minute, wait for 4, then increase level.  We invested 20 minutes for this set.  Without success, we moved back towards our parking spot.

On our return, we set up near some glacial erratics in the woods in route to the truck.  A short set of field mouse in distress for 30 second play took action, then waited two minutes, followed by a consistent increase in sound level.  Again, no luck.

We took a break and I explained to my dad the reasoning behind the set in terms of timing and sound level.  He seemed wary that my experience existed only with research and reading, but I felt confident especially with the support of a few of my predator hunting friends.  So far, the best articles I have read were Calling Fox with the FOXPRO by Pete Hauer and Calling the Red Fox by Randy Buker.  They both are very useful to the beginning predator hunter.

My father had heard reports of a large number of fox in a particular area, so we garnered permission of a marshy heath.  Our setup would be under a tree, with the game call midway between us and the forest edge with frozen water and shadow grass (about 15 yards).  The plan was to stay here awhile, so I started Field Mouse in Distress at level four and ran for one minute, then wait for 4 minutes.  The sequence went like this...

Level 4:1 Minute: Wait 4 Minutes,  Level 6: 1 Minute: Wait 4 Minutes, Level 8: 1Minute, Wait 4 Minutes.

Then, I decided to try the Kitten in Distress at level 6, within 40 seconds a large red fox sprang out of the trees and bolted for the call which had a cat toy mouse fixed to the Firestorm antenna.  It stopped and hid in some grass just feet from the call as if to pounce, during this my dad kept whispering "shoot it, shoot it" and my retort, "I can't because I'll hit the game call".  Finally I took the chance and fired the Xtrema2, the shot took the fox directly in the head for a quick kill.

So how does somebody with little experience gain immediate success?  It's quite simple, get a good call.  I could not have produced these results without a quality device like the Firestorm.  However, it is very important to assert that a call needs proper utilization.  For this, I read extensively on how to hunt the red fox, spoke with several friends who have had success, and practiced several times while noting my successes and failures.

At this point of the gear review, I'd like to mention the features I have tried with this high performance game call and comment on the overall performance of those features.

Internal Memory
The FIRESTORM came with 50 high-quality sounds from FOXPRO's sound library and has the potential to store 150 more.  The ability to download a variety of file formats (MP3, WAV, etc.) is a great feature, however the sound library only utilizes Windows PC in the program utility.  For a MacBook owner like me, I must seek an alternative means to purchase and download any future sounds.

Dual Amplified Speakers
With the options to use one or the other speakers, or both allows you to tailor your calling as you see fit.  So far I have run the call with both speakers and feel they certainly carry sound well while also maintaining a realistic and convincing sound.  My red fox was shot 8 feet from the call at sound level 6, it certainly was committed to the quality audio from this product. 

Remote/Manual Operation
The FIRESTORM with the TX9 remote made for simple use.  It has a well designed red back light LCD display that clearly shows the sound you are using with a timer and provides ample opportunity to make your next move.  The buttons in cold weather were sometimes hard to engage in terms of selecting another call, muting the current call, or adjusting volume.  However, the lit display and ease of use made up for the extra effort in sending the next command.  You can choose to operate it manually from the controls located on the front, but I believe that using the remote will allow the effective user to set up away from the call and not alarm any early mover upon the first call.  In addition, the manual display only shows what number is being played while the remote offers the type of call for selection. 

Rechargeable Batteries & Charging System
I received a charging system that included FOXPRO's battery charger and rechargeable batteries The system is absolutely smooth in terms of ease of use.  Once you are finished hunting, you can plug the Firestorm in a wall charger and be ready for your next calling set in a few hours.  The Firestorm has a charging indicator that is meant to go off, but I read in the owner's manual that it does not always signify this as I have on several occasions noticed this issue.  If the batteries are hot, then the batteries are charged and the unit must be unplugged.  This feature could be improved.

In Summary...

The Firestorm is a crystal clear game call that possesses remarkable clarity and range in the variety of calls provided.  I certainly will all zeal recommend the Firestorm and I am proud to include that this fine product is also made in the U.S.A. with a limited 5 year warranty.  It has been a joy to receive this electronic game call and be able to put it to great use in Washington County, Maine.  Please click the link below to access the FOXPRO homepage and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments..  For an update that includes video of a fox being called in, please click HERE.

FOXPRO High Performance Game Calls

Note:  I received the FOXPRO Firestorm with a camouflage carry case, battery charger, and rechargeable batteries as a result of the one year anniversary of the Outdoor Blogger Network and the generosity of FOXPRO, Inc.- High Performance Game Calls.  I, in no way shape or form, have any professional affiliation with the two before mentioned groups.  I sincerely appreciate the gratitude of both parties and thank all hands involved for the opportunity to try such a product.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ice Fishing Opener

At the start, over 70 traps held this fishing spot.  The game warden said not many places are safe, including here.

Today we dared the dangerous and hit three inches of ice for the 2012 ice fishing opener.  Shallow water, a warm day, and precautionary efforts were employed all day to result in one fine time.  There is a saying that goes like "if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes".  At one point it was overcast, only to become bright, then windy, and finally a combination of hail and rain.  Needless to say, it honestly felt like a typical March day here in down east Maine.

The trout weren't responsive early, but every time a quick front passed through the brookies were inclined to attack.  The end result was 8 trout landed, 4 kept, and we all walked off the crystal clear ice in good order.

I thought I had the lunker award until Sheldon, a high school sophomore, took advantage of a late flag and pulled in an awesome 13.5 inch beauty which easily defeated my 12.5 inch trout.  Bud took the prize for landing three trout, however I'm pretty sure Sheldon's trout might have eaten them just after Bud released his minnows.


Below are the photos of the trip which may be the most impressive ice photos I've taken in a long time, I just wish they hadn't come from my cell phone.

Cheers for the new year!

My dad trying out the hand auger

One of Bud's monster trout, he threw the other two back before I could get a picture

My first trout in at 10 inches, but not nearly the fish I would later catch

Brook trout number two, a nice 12.5 inch fish

The reigning champion at 13.5 inches, Congratulations Sheldon... I'm gunning for you...
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